Narmada Samachar: 29 August 2001


All this (and more) news can be accessed via the Press Clippings page at:
The NBA press releases are accessible at:

Archives of Narmada Samachar are accessible at:

The SSP Dam

ERRATA: In the previous edition, one press release was attributed to 'Paryawaran Suraksha Samiti' whereas it actually is from 'Punarwas Sangharsh Samiti'.

People of Narmada Valley Warn Against Callous Decision on Dam;
Over 1200 in Bhopal: R&R Sub Group Meeting in progress
NBA Press Release - August 29, 2001

Announcement on SSP and Decision by Chief Ministers is Farcical;
If Humps mean 93 mts, NBA's Position is Further Vindicated
NBA Press Release - August 21, 2001

SC/ST Commission Chairman Dares the Government;
Promises to Meet Officials and NBA Representatives soon
NBA Press Release - August 24, 2001

Narmada Satyagraha

Press Releases

Top Official Meets Jeevanshala Children: Promises Prompt Response;
Delhi Accords Warm Welcome to Jeevan Yatra
NBA Press Release - August 24, 2001

President's Office responds Positively to Jeevan Yatra;
Delhi Colleges Rise and Noted Artists Perform in Support of Narmada Struggle
NBA Press Release - August 24, 2001

Press Clippings

Save our schools, cry Narmada children ;
The Hindu - August 28, 2001

President promises Narmada kids support for survival ; - August 25, 2001

It is never too late to stop the dam: Arundhati Roy ;
The Hindu - August 25, 2001

NBA's yatra of kids draws flak for rights abuse ;
Deccan Herald - August 25, 2001

Narmada kids pour out their hearts ;
Hindustan Times - August 25, 2001

Kids of Narmada valley plead for their future ; - August 24, 2001

Narmada team take protest to President ;
The Hindu - August 24, 2001

Rally by Narmada's children ;
The Hindu - August 22, 2001

Supreme Court contempt case

There are lots of news items about the Supreme Court judgement. Below is just a sampling. Please visit the Press Clippings page to read the rest.

SC issues show cause notice to Arundhati ; - August 28, 2001

Legal challenge for top author ;
BBC News - August 28, 2001

SC issues contempt notice to Arundhati Roy ;
Times of India - August 28, 2001

Contempt and punishment: the times are a-changing ;
Rakesh Shukla; - August 27, 2001

This article is a longer and more detailed version of the article
that got published in the Times of India (which is included as the
feature article for this edition of Narmada Samachar).
It is Roy's tirade, not cause ;
Manoj Mitta, Editorial; Indian Express - August 23, 2001

ACTION ALERT: Intimidation in Bandhavgarh National Park

Intimidation in Bandhavgarh ;
India Together - August 29, 2001

Three tribal youths from a village near Bandhavgarh National Park were
recently arrested and booked for 'poaching' a tigress. Subsequent
investigations into the matters by Ekta Parishad and National Forum of
Forest People and Forest Workers activists revealed that the arrested
persons were completely innocent of the charge. In fact, some park
officials had allegedly contrived the entire case to harass the accused
tribal youths, who threatened to expose a fraud of those officials. NFFPFW
and Ekta Prishad brought this matter to the notice of the Director,
Project Tiger and the PCCF, Madhya Pradesh, who instructed the PA
management to conduct immediate and full inquiries. Later the CM and
Forest Minister of Madhya Pradesh were also appraised of the developments.

Meanwhile, a demand had been raised for a CBI investigation into all
incidents of tiger poaching in Bandhavgarh, including the present one. Not
only the forest staff but also the local hooligans and wildlife traders in
the area countered this demand. They threatened Ekta Parishad and NFFPFW
activists and villagers with 'dire consequences' if the CBI investigation
and other departmental inquiries take place.

To reiterate its demands of a CBI inquiry, and to stop harassment of local
villagers, a meeting was called at Bandhavgarh on August 24th at village
Mahaman. Before the meeting could begin, 35-40 hooligans armed with sticks
and sharp edged weapons led by a MLA belonging to the ruling party of the
state brutally assaulted the villagers and the activists. Mr. Ashok
Chowdhury, Convenor, National Co-ordination Committee of NFFPFW, received
multiple injuries on his head and had to be hospitalised, along with
Debjit Nandi and Kanta Marathe, leading activists of both NFFPFW and Ekta
Prishad. Two members of the local community here were beaten till they
became unconcious. They were also warned against filing any report and
persisting with the demand for the CBI enquiry in teh matter of the deaths
of tigers here. The local administration and the police personnel remained
totally ineffective and the attackers are still at large.

Action Item: The rest of this page raises concerns at these actions in a
letter to the chief minister of M.P. Two separate procedures to express
your concerns and urge action are included here, and you may follow either
of them.

*** Please visit this page and share your thoughts on the matter with
Mr.Digvijay Singh *** 

Other news

Check dams turn Gujarat fertile ;
Economic Times - August 26, 2001

CM hails Saurashtra for building check dams ;
Times of India - August 23, 2001

Gujarat ministers embarrass - and are embarrassed ;
Times of India - August 28, 2001

Govt denies visas to foreign supporters of Narmada movement ; - August 25, 2001

Feature Article: Contempt and punishment: the times are changing - Rakesh Shukla

Times of India - August 23, 2001

The Supreme Court has reserved judgment in the contempt petition filed by
five lawyers against Medha Patkar, advocate Prashant Bhushan and Arundhati
Roy for alleged violence and threats during the Narmada Bachao Andolan
dharna on December 14 last year. The court seems inclined to take the view
that it needs to examine whether the affidavits filed by Arundhati Roy and
others in response to its notices, chiefly their language, amount to
contempt of court or not.

In total violation of the fundamental concept of public justice, no
visitor was allowed into the court room to witness the proceedings. People
have a right to witness the dispensation of justice unless the court has
issued an order directing the proceedings to be held ``in-camera'' for
reasons to be recorded.

Today, the executive has been humbled with the chief minister of Delhi
having to tender an unconditional apology under threat of punishment for
contempt in the CNG (compressed natural gas) case. The apex court had set
a deadline for the switchover to CNG for all commercial vehicles in the
Capital, including buses. Inadequate number of CNG buses led to riots and
protests, including burning of vehicles. The chief minister made a
statement pertaining to ground realities and was promptly hauled up for

The secretary of Peoples' Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), the publisher,
managing editor, correspondent and sub-editor of The Hitavada, an English
daily from Nagpur, have been sentenced to six months' imprisonment by the
Madhya Pradesh high court for reporting critical comments by the
secretary, after the acquittal by the court of the industrialists
convicted by the trial court for the assassination of the much acclaimed
trade union leader Shankar Guha Neogi. Even after tendering an
unconditional apology, the editor and publisher of Wah India barely
escaped imprisonment by the Delhi high court which was outraged at an
article published in the English periodical evaluating judges under
different heads.

The threat of punishment for contempt of court hangs over the media like
the sword of Democles. Resort to quotations from earlier judicial
pronouncements, which by no stretch of logic can be held to amount to
contempt, seems to be the only recourse left. More than a century ago,
Lord Morris in 1899 while delivering the judgment of the Judicial
Committee in Mac Leod vs St. Aubin observed: ``Committals for contempt by
scandalizing the court itself have become obsolete in this country. Courts
are satisfied to leave to public opinion attacks or comments derogatory or
scandalous to them.''

In a similar vein, Lord Denning in 1968 in Regina versus Commissioner of
Olice, ex parte Blackburn, observed: ``Let me say at once that we will
never use this jurisdiction as a means to uphold our own dignity. That
must rest on surer foundations. Nor will we use it to suppress those who
speak against us. We do not fear criticism, nor do we resent it.

For there is something far more important at stake. It is no less than
freedom of speech itself.''

Nearer home, Chief Justice Gajendragadkar following in the rich liberal
tradition, while heading a seven-judge Bench of the apex court, cautioned
against frequent or indiscriminate use of the power of contempt. He
observed: ``Wise Judges never forget that the best way to sustain the
dignity and status of their office is to deserve respect from the public
at large by the quality of their judgments, the fearlesness, fairness and
objectivity of their approach and by the restraint, dignity and decorum
which they observe in their judicial conduct.''

The era of rich liberalism and tolerance in contempt jurisprudence seems
to be on the decline. Today, in a manner of speaking, any minor gesture
may provoke the court to use the judicial sudershan chakra of contempt
power. The Justice Krishna Iyer approach that even where criticisms
overstep the limits, the court ``should deflate vulgar denunciation by
dignified bearing, condescending indifference and repudiation by judicial
rectitude'' is on the way out.

An approach that ignores the well established legal position, that the
power to punish for contempt is not for the protection of the court
against injury or insult but to subserve the essential right of ordinary
citizens to get justice, bodes ill for the institution as well as the
future of democracy.